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COVID: Benicia Lawmakers Vote Unanimously To Impose Mask Mandate

BENICIA (KPIX) -- Breaking from the rest of Solano County, the city of Benicia has voted to impose its own indoor mask mandate including vaccinated residents with overwhelming support.

Solano is the only county in the Bay Area currently without an indoor mask mandate but the Benicia City Council took the step to say what works in the county doesn't work here and voted unanimously to implement a mandate.

Benicia now takes the distinction of being the first city in Solano County to implement an universal indoor mask mandate. During the City Council meeting there was overwhelming public support for the mandate and we got the same response from those in downtown Benicia.

"I think that would be perfectly acceptable. We need to do whatever we can to get rid of this mask once and for all. If we don't, it's going to be with us for a long time I'm afraid," said Larry Sivilla, a Benicia resident.

Jill adds, "It's everyone's choice but I also think its a respect thing."

"I think it might be needed everywhere. I think it's needed everywhere," concluded Mike Sommer.

Benicia is part of a very diverse Solano County and unlike areas such as Fairfield and Vacaville located to the east, this city's vaccination rates and behavior align more with the Bay Area.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas presented his case on why there isn't scientific data to support a mask mandate countywide.

"If you look at the disease curves, they are the same in mask mandated counties and non mask mandated counties," Dr. Matyas said.

While Benicia has a mask mandate, enforcing it is the next issue. Without the county and the city being on the same page, violations will have to be handled by Benicia alone. The city says it will look to educate, more than enforce but some wonder if this could be handled differently.

Barbara Romano, a Benicia resident says, "I think we should go at it a different way. It seems like the more you're told to do something, the less you like it."

The mandate will be in place for 6 weeks. At that time, the council will re-evaluate the mandate and remove it if cases in Benicia are out of the high or substantial range for 30 days.

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